When Mother Nature Does Stupid Things…
You know what is a terrible concept? Vining cacti. Yes, let’s make a plant covered in spines and have it climb over EVERYTHING. The particular plant I’m whining about (because it’s my blog and I can whine if I want to) is Pereskia aculeata. Thankfully it’s not a rambunctious vine (unlike the passionvine it is getting tangled up with) but it is still clearly a vine and not quite so clearly a cactus. For some reason I feel compelled to tell you how I grow this as a houseplant (in case you too decide that you need a cactus vine).
I think I’m going to have to keep an eye on this one…it seems like it could be a real pain if I let it get out of control. On the plus side it IS really easy to grow. They’re a tropical cactus so they need a bit more water than “traditional” cacti but other than that they seem to be pretty similar in care. Here’s how I’ve been growing mine:
Light: It sits in an east window. When I say it is in the east window I really mean that it’s on a table about 1.5 feet away with a wall of other plants in front of it (as you can kind of tell from the picture above). Since it’s a vine it is kind of doing its own thing about growing around all the other plants to find a good source of light. I’m guessing if you put it in a sunnier spot you’ll have a much more compact plant.
Water: I don’t water it too much. I wait for the soil to get good and dry and the leaves to lose a bit of their sheen. So far it’s been about 2 weeks between waterings. If you have a younger, cutting grown plant you might want to water more frequently until it has a chance to establish itself.
Soil: I admittedly have no clue what this plant wants for an ideal soil. I’ve got it growing in generic potting soil from the garden center and it’s doing great. I’m guessing that lighter and well draining is better than heavy and slow to drain (because really that’s the case for most houseplants).
Fertilizer: I feed it once a month. I really don’t WANT to encourage vast amounts of growth.
Other stuff: It does get a nice white flower and orange fruits (mine has not though). My particular plant has a really nice shapely trunk but I’ve never seen another one with a trunk like this so I’m not sure if I just have an old plant or I just haven’t seen very many in general (which is definitely true).
I can’t say I’d recommend this plant for EVERYONE just because if it’s weird growth habit but if you’re in the market for strange plants I’d say give this one a shot. If nothing else it’s a conversation piece!
EDIT: Don’t get me wrong, I actually really really love this plant. I just find the concept of a viney cactus to be quite unnecessary (which of course meant it was totally necessary to go into my collection).